Nigerian youths embarked on a peaceful protest tagged #EndSARS to demand the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit, as well as, other reforms in the Nigerian Police Force (NPF). What started out as a peaceful demonstration by thousands of youths, degenerated into chaos after the protests were hijacked by hoodlums.
The hijacked protest is now characterized by the heavy presence of security personnel on the streets of Lagos, mob attacks on security personnel, killings, and vandalization of public and private properties.
The Birth of #EndSARS
The #EndSARS movement dates back to 2017, where Nigerian youths used the hashtag to share their experiences on violence and assault perpetrated by the defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad. However, the movement only revived in early October, after a video emerged of police officers thought to be members of the SARS unit, allegedly killing an unarmed young man.
This prompted Nigerian youths to troop to Twitter, calling on the Federal Government for police reform with the hashtag, #EndSARS, #Endpolicebrutality, and many more. The hashtag trended continuously on Twitter as Nigerian youths aired their pain and experiences online.
Naijatechnews.com is capturing the timeline of the events from the moment it all began to the latest developments and on.
Sunday, 4th October 2020
- The Nigerian Police Force, through the Inspector General of Police, announced the ban of SARS members and other Tactical Squads from carrying out routine patrols and other conventional low-risk duties, stop and search duties, checkpoints, mounting of roadblocks, traffic checks, etc with immediate effect.
Wednesday, 7th October 2020
- Youths in Lagos State set out for a three-day protest to call for the disbandment of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit of the Nigeria Police Force, as part of the push for reforms in the police system to put an end to the extra-judicial activities of the agency. Youths were seen marching to the Force Headquarters at Ikeja, carrying placards with various inscriptions such as “Protect, not exploit”, “Nigeria police stop killing us,” amongst other printed messages.
Sunday, 11th October 2020
- The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, via his Twitter handle, disclosed that the operations of the Federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (FSARS) have been dissolved across all 36 states and the Federal Capital with immediate effect.
Monday, 12th October 2020
- The Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike announced that all forms of protest have been banned in the state, therefore the proposed #EndSARS protest in Port Harcourt for Tuesday 13th October 2020 should not hold. He disclosed this in a social media statement on Monday evening, after the Lagos protests turned violent, as police allegedly attacked protesters in Surulere, Lagos.
Tuesday, 13th October 2020
- The Lagos State Government set up a N200 million fund for residents in the states who have been victims of police brutality. This was made known by the state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu while addressing protesters in Alausa, Ikeja area of Lagos State. He requested for a list of names of Lagos State residents that have been affected by police brutality.
- The Inspector-General of Police announced the set up of a new Police outfit known as Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT) to take over from the dissolved Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). He also ordered all personnel of the disbanded unit to report to the force headquarters in Abuja for debriefing, psychological and medical examination.
- Despite the ban of protesting activities in Rivers State, residents of Port Harcourt defied the Governor and marched to the Government house while chanting the song of “solidarity forever”.
Wednesday, 14th October 2020
- The Federal Government declaredthat no Police Officer of any unit is allowed to look into people’s phones, or look at the type of vehicle they are using, or profiling them to see whether they are yahoo boys or not. The Inspector-General of police also stated that “Justice will be done. An investigation team will be constituted which will include Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), to identify all abuses, and officers that are found culpable will be punished.”
Thursday, 15th October 2020
- The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) announcedthat all street demonstrations have been banned after a wave of #EndSARS protests in the city due to police brutality. This came on the back of protesters still actively demonstrating on the streets, despite the Federal Government scrapping the unit.
- The Governor of Lagos State disclosed that the State Government has arrested and is currently probing police officers that were involved in brutalizing protesters at the Surulere protest venue.
Friday, 16th October 2020
- The Police Service Commissionreportedly listed the names of 37 former members of the disbanded Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) for dismissal from service.
Saturday, 17th October 2020
- The Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu announced through his official Twitter handle, that the trial of the erring police officers who were allegedly involved in the attack on #EndSARS Protesters in Surulere, which led to the death of one of them had started on Friday, October 16, 2020.
Sunday, 18th October 2020
- #EndSARS protesters launched a helpline centre and an online radio platform named ‘Soro Soke’ to aid the coordination of the protesters nationwide through effective and timely communication.
- The Senate President, Ahmed Lawan called for an end to the #EndSARS protests after a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila at the State House in Abuja.
- The Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu announcedthe terms of reference of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution into abuses by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
- The #EndSARS movement protesters reportedly blocked the headquarter of the Central Banks of Nigeria in Abuja so as to prevent activities at the apex bank on Monday.
Monday, 19th October 2020
- Lagos State Government inaugurated an 8-man Judicial Panel of Inquiry and Restitution to investigate cases of police brutality in the state. This was disclosed by the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who cited Section 5 of Tribunals of Inquiry Law, Laws of Lagos State, 2015 as a legal justification to set up the panel.
- Edo State Government announcedthe imposition of a 24-hour curfew across the state with effect from 4pm. This was due to incidents of vandalism and attacks reportedly carried out by hoodlums who hijacked the #EndSARS protests.
- Soldiers were deployed to the streets of Abuja and stationed in strategic places to curb the #EndSARS protest that has in some cases gone out of hand as suspected hoodlums were reportedly attacking protesters and pro-SARS groups.
Tuesday, 20th October 2020
- At around 11 pm, GT Bank’s branch on Admiralty Way, Lekki, Lagos state was allegedly set ablaze in the middle of the night by hoodlums disguised as #EndSARS protesters. This was disclosed by eyewitnesses around the affected branch, through their respective Twitter accounts.
- At about 10 pm, the Lagos State Government ordered an investigation into the Lekki Toll Plaza shooting that was allegedly done by men of the Nigerian Army on Tuesday evening. This was disclosed in a statement issued by the state’s Commissioner of Information and Strategy, Mr.Gbenga Omotoso, via his Twitter handle.
- At 7:08 pm, Lagos State Government issued a directive to extend the enforcement of its 24hour curfew from 4 pm today to 9 pm, to enable residents stuck in traffic get to their destinations. This was disclosed by the State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu on Tuesday evening via the state’s official Twitter handle.
- At about 7 pm, several social media accounts revealed peaceful protesters were allegedly being shot at by the Nigerian military at the Lekki toll gate holdout.
- Suspected miscreants and arsonists burnt down the Dutse Makaranta police station in the Kubwa area of Abuja. This is after the clash between policemen and #EndSARS protesters in the area where a protester, Anthony Onome, was stabbed on Saturday and a stray bullet hit and killed another protester, who died on the spot.
- At 11:49 am, the Lagos State Government announced the imposition of a 24-hour curfew in all parts of the state, with effect from 4 pm Tuesday, October 20, 2020. This was due to the hijacked #EndSARS protests in the state, where hoodlums attacked citizens and destroyed properties.
- At about 4 pm, the IG of Nigerian Police Force, M.A Adamu, orderedthe immediate nationwide deployment of anti-riot police unit, Police Mobile Force (PMF), over attacks on police facilities by hoodlums during the #EndSARS protests.
- About noon, a police station in the Orile-Iganmu area of Lagos State was set on fire by suspected thugs. Eyewitnesses who shared videos via their Twitter accounts said the reprisal attacks were allegedly fueled by the shooting of one person in that area by policemen.
- The United States embassy and consulate in Nigeria, announced the shutting down of its consulate in Lagos State for two days with effect from Tuesday, October 20, 2020, due to the hijacked #EndSARS protests.
Wednesday, 21st October 2020
- The Inspector-General of Police(IGP), Mohammed Adamu orderedthe withdrawal of all Police Officers attached to Very Important Persons (VIPs) across the country, with the exemption of those in Government houses, the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
- Lagos State Government suspended all government activities and declared lockdown for 72 hours in view of growing violence in the state. The Governor had earlier visited the injured protesters at the hospitals where they received treatment and also stated via a broadcast that there was no record of fatality in the controversial Lekki Toll Plaza shooting on Tuesday.
- The United Kingdom High Commission in Nigeria announced the shutdown of its VISA application centers in Nigeria for the next 48 hours, with immediate effect, due to the ongoing #EndSARS protests in the country.
- Television Continental (TVC)station in the Ikosi-Ketu area of Lagos state has been allegedly burnt down by hoodlums who attacked the building. This was disclosed by some residents, who sent videos on social media.
- The headquarters of the Nigerian Ports Authority in Marina, Lagos was also reportedly set on fire by hoodlums involved in the #EndSARS protests.
- Around 1 am, The Nigerian Armytook to their official Twitter handle and denied deploying soldiers to attack #EndSARS protesters who defied the imposed curfew and peacefully assembled at the Lekki Toll Plaza.
Thursday, 22nd October 2020
- In an interview session with Arise TV, the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu said that the curfew initially imposed for 72 hours could be lifted partially within 24 hours to allow Nigerians re-stock on food and critical household items.
- The Governor also responded to the question on who ordered the removal of the CCTV at the toll gate and the switching off of the light. He said, “Nobody ordered, they were the security of LCC on the ground. I called the security of LCC that night and because of the curfew they took off the installation. That camera that you saw is not a security camera it is a laser camera that picks your number plate.
- He continued, “That is what the camera does. It is not a security camera it is an infrared camera. The security camera is still available. The security camera is installed on top of the tower and they are there. The camera pulled off is a decision the LCC took because they are not going to be there because of the curfew. The Managing Director of LCC does not have a reporting line to me.”
- He also confirmed that he was yet to speak with the President following the Lekki Shooting that occurred on Tuesday evening against EndSARS Protesters.